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5 Ways to Reduce Commercial Auto Insurance Claims

While the property & casualty insurance industry as a whole is experiencing a soft market, commercial auto insurance has been one of the few lines that has gone in the opposite direction. Much of this has to do with the increase in distracted driving caused by the onset of smart phones. But aside from prohibiting your drivers from using their cell phones while driving, there are a few other best practices that can help reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience a commercial auto insurance claim.

1. Have a pre-trip inspection.

A thorough pre-trip inspection should be conducted before a long trip. Have a checklist that lists out everything you need to inspect and check it off one by one. This should include, among a litany of other tasks, checking for any leaks, making sure your cargo is properly secured and - last but not least - making sure the bed of your truck is lowered all the way.

2. Mandate that your truck drivers get regularly scheduled sleep.

When you're trying to make deadlines and keep up with demand, it can be tempting to put pressure on your drivers to make sure loads are delivered on time. The FMCSA limits truck drivers to an 11 hour daily driving limit. Make sure your dispatch listens if a driver expresses to them that they are too tired to the point that they feel like they are a danger to themselves and to other drivers. Making sure your truck drivers get ample amount of sleep helps ensure that they are alert behind the wheel, which is important because an alert driver is less likely to fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident.

 3. Train your drivers to be wary of their surroundings.

There are two kinds of honking: one is of indignation and the other is of distress. With the roadways flush with impatient drivers, truck drivers are probably used to hearing the former so when they hear the ladder there's no discernible difference. If the driver is laying down his horn in long, blaring way, then he is probably just angry. However, if there are multiple vehicles beeping over and over again all around you, there's a good chance something could be severely wrong and it may be wise to pull over. It's not unusual for drivers to try to get the attention of the truck driver if something is wrong. The sooner the truck driver notices this, the better.  Your driver’s truck bed could be raised, the back door could be open, or something else could be of concern.

4. Require a post-accident drug and alcohol test.

Requiring employees that suffer a work related injury to submit a drug and alcohol test could save you from paying a large workers' compensation claim. In many cases, intoxication may be ground for denying a claim (some states make this easier than others).

5. Hire the right drivers.

Good drivers make your business more attractive to underwriters. On a number of occasions I have seen competitive insurance companies deny coverage to a trucking company because of one bad driving record. As a result, I'm forced to provide coverage through a different carrier at an increased price. In other words, before a bad driver even hits the road, they are already costing you money. Ensure that you are hiring the right drivers by properly screening new hires. Look at each candidate's driving record, educational and employment history, and require a drug test before hiring.

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